For Robin Brock, playing the Sturgis North Motorcycle Rally and Music Festival marks something of a rock ’n’ roll homecoming.
Though the self-proclaimed “rock-chick” calls Annis Bay home, and considers Sicamous and Salmon Arm her stomping grounds, her music career has kept her overseas, touring Europe and the UK where there’s more of a market for the type of hard rock/metal music that’s in her blood. Brock says when she heard that Sturgis was happening in Salmon Arm, she jumped on the opportunity to once again play to a home audience.
“As soon as I heard that Sturgis was coming into town I contacted them right away,” says Brock. “It’s been quite a few years since I played in Canada and with the new album, Monsters coming out, I thought it was good timing to do some performances here.”
Monsters, the third album in Brock’s repertoire, is a richly produced compilation of edgy, hard rock numbers, driven by Brock’s strong vocals.
Lyrically, each song is a revealing exploration in self-empowerment, whether it’s conquering personal fears, addictions, or bad relationships. Of note: Canadian guitar legend, former Triumph axeman Rik Emmett, makes a guest appearance on two tracks; Two Words and Power It Through.
The energy on Monsters, and in Brock’s music in general, is influenced in part by the musicians who inspired Brock in her youth while attending school in Sicamous, and throughout her career. The big ones include Bryan Adams, Pat Benatar, KISS, Def Leppard, and Metallica. But Brock’s adventurous life outside of music has also had an impact. For starters, Brock is an avid mountain biker. She said she got into the sport because of her “significant other,” who races mountain bikes professionally.
“I decided if I wanted to see him I better take it up to, but it’s a win-win, and the great thing is, you can get really inspired when you’re doing something totally different like that, being in the zone and the creative process will kick in,” says Brock, who sometimes finds inspiration on the trail. “I’ll be on a ride and the next thing I know, I’ll have to basically pull off the trail because I’ll have to sing what’s going through my head so I don’t forget it when I get back home. I should bring pen and paper with me but there’s only so much room in the CamelBak.”
While on one ride, Brock had the misfortune of breaking her ankle. She was laid up for weeks and took the time to think about her life and her music career. Writing music helped her to heal, to recover and, when her cast came off, the next adventure was waiting. It was the wildfire season of 2003, and Brock soon found herself employed by the BC Forest Service, fighting the wildfire in Sicamous. Brock wound up loving the work and has been doing it since.
An unexpected benefit of the job is that it’s helped her to connect with new fans.
“They’ve been so supportive and I have sold tons of CDs just to the people that I work with because they love music and they want to support local artists,” says Brock, noting the decline of the music industry has left artists to their own devices when it comes to marketing.
When the Canadian fan-base for hard rock seemed to have dried up, Brock says she was offered a contract to sing country. But she couldn’t do it, instead choosing to tour in Europe, rather than giving up the music that is her lifeblood.
“I guess I love the attitude, I love the strength of the music… to be yourself and be okay with that,” says Brock. “Pop music and country, on the other hand, I’ve always veered away from that because it’s all about the image. You have to look like a Barbie doll. A lot of times, it’s not about the talent, whereas with rock, you don’t necessarily have to be the best singer, you just have to have, pardon the expression, “balls.”
Brock has the honour of being the opening act on the Sturgis North main stage on Wednesday, July 13, from 2:15 to 3:42 p.m. The following day she plays the fall fairgrounds stage from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.
Brock says playing Sturgis, for her, is kind of like starting over. She says concert-goers can expect a lot of energy, a lot of passion and some awesome rock ’n’ roll.
“I’m really looking forward to the show, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”